Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Today on Context Florida: Donald Trump’s success, election tsunami, vice presidential picks and Harm Reduction

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Today on Context Florida:

As the primary season continues and we near the GOP convention in July, one thing has become certain to Steven Kurlander. Whether the GOP likes it or not, Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee. What’s not certain is whether Trump the GOP nominee, or if elected president, will build on his brilliant exploitation of dissatisfaction to seize a moment in history to rebuild the American political system. It’s quite popular among out-of-touch Republican conservatives to mischaracterize Trump’s success as destructive to the country. He’s being called the “anti-Republican” Republican.

Six months remain until Election Day Nov. 8. During this time, our beloved land and our frayed sensibilities will be assaulted by waves of political news, oratory, propaganda, lobbying, slogans, promises, distortions and outright lies. All of it is aimed at placing a solitary, vulnerable mortal into the most powerful and perhaps the loneliest job on earth. Political junkies will relish this pre-election tsunami. But many of our less-addictive creatures believe that life is more important than politics. Bob Driver offers tips on how to survive the election tsunami.

As we close out the presidential nomination phase, attention is now shifting to the selection of possible running mates for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This will be the first important decision that the candidates must make as they enter the general election phase of the campaign. Darryl Paulson examines some of the criteria that have been used in selecting a vice president in the past. Vice presidents are sometimes selected to unite the party. Ronald Reagan selected George H. W. Bush in an attempt to unite the conservative and eastern establishment wings of the party. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts picked Lloyd Bentsen of Texas to try to unite the northern and southern wings of the Democratic Party. It failed.

Mel Sembler and Joy Fishman have something in common. They both had children who abused drugs. The similarities end there. Mel’s children are all alive, thank goodness. Fishman’s son, Jonathan, died of a heroin overdose in 2006, after being dumped outside of an ER in Hialeah by the dealers who sold him his final shot. Her cause is a program called Harm Reduction. Harm Reduction is a broad category of public safety and health policy reforms that includes syringe exchange programs (like Florida’s recently passed bill allowing such a pilot program in Miami-Dade County), increased access to Naloxone, a miracle drug that can harmlessly and cheaply reverse an opiate overdose as it is happening, and drug maintenance programs, such as methadone.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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